King Charles III vowed to “uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation” as he delivered a stirring tribute to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, during his first televised address since ascending the throne.
“The affection, admiration, and respect she inspired became the hallmark of her reign,” Charles said on Friday following the death of his mother a day earlier. Buckingham Palace said the 96-year-old queen “died peacefully” at Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s Scottish estate.
“As every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humor, and an unerring ability always to see the best in people,” Charles, Elizabeth’s 73-year-old son, said in his first speech as king.
Charles nodded to the past and his mother’s historic 70-year reign, but also outlined a “time of change” for the royal family.
The king announced new titles for his family members, saying his “darling wife,” Camilla, would become Queen Consort. Charles said his son Prince William and William’s wife, Kate Middleton, would “continue to inspire and lead our national conversations.”
He also took time to wish his younger son, Prince Harry, and Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, well following years of tension after an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021 alleging a toxic environment and racist attacks.
“I want also to express my love to Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas,” Charles said of his 37-year-old son and daughter-in-law. The couple stepped down as full-time working members of the royal family and moved to California in late 2020.
“When the queen came to the throne, Britain and the world were still coping with the privations and aftermath of the Second World War and still living by the conventions of earlier times,” Charles told viewers in the pre-recorded message.
“In the course of the last 70 years, we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths. The institutions of the state have changed in turn.”
“Our values have remained, and must remain, constant,” Charles said. “The role and the duties of monarchy also remain.”
Charles also noted remarks his mother made more than 75 years ago, when then-Princess Elizabeth addressed the British people in a radio broadcast to mark her 21st birthday and delivered a now-famous pledge.
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” Elizabeth said at the time.
“As the queen herself did with such unswerving devotion,” Charles said, “I, too, now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.”
“And wherever you may live in the United Kingdom, or in the realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life.”
Thanking the public for the outpouring of condolences, Charles said, “They mean more to me than I can ever possibly express.”
“In our sorrow, let us remember and draw strength from the light of her example.”
“And to my darling mama,” Charles said as he ended his address, “as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late papa, I want simply to say this: Thank you.”
“Thank for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years,” he said.
“May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”